Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quiet Weekend

After last weekend, this weekend is a keeper.
Why? Because last weekend we caught the culprits who have been terrorizing the park. If you recall, my husband is park manager of Afton, a county park, out here in the country. It's over 300 acres of replanted wildflowers and wetlands--all of it planted by hand either by seed, or plants.

Anyway, we've had a constant attack from young people who think no one cares that they drive out into the main grassy area (there are No Off Road Vehicles signs posted, but I guess people don't read), making deep ruts there and into the wildflowers. Yes. We've planted all that just so you can take a joy ride!

Well, last Sunday morning, my husband went to do his morning park checks. He saw new damage, and noted two vehicles parked in one of the lots. Upon further inspection, he could see that there was evidence of their driving into the flowers (prairie flowers on the back of the pickup truck and mud on the tires would indicate this). My husband had them red handed. They weren't around, and so he called the Sheriff's police. Three people were arrested. One was a young lady and said she did all the driving. Which I told Dennis she'd change her tune once they locked her up at the jailhouse. I don't know what happened afterward, only that the girl called her mother (probably in tears), and the mother didn't think it was that terrible a deed she should have to be locked up. Oh? Yeah, lady, you come out here and see what they did and convert that to your own yard--if you have one--and see how you'd like that happening. Dennis can't even mow out there the ruts are so extensive and deep. He told me he thought the tire tracks went in about a 2-3 acre area. He put out flags, which may have taken 30 flags, and 30-45 min. to do so.

We so want to have these young people put to work out here to fix what they did. That's our wish. Don't know if that will happen.

Other than this, my sales have been constant all month, whether or not any book was on sale. At present, there have been 116 ebooks sold just this month, and like I said, not all were on sale. I've never had even half that many sold in a month. But in May, and June, my ebook sales were 77 in each of those months.

I have to report I've never seen this even when I had my first publisher. I'd make a sale, and then the ranks would drop. I was watching the hills and valleys--mostly valleys--back then. And at times there were no sales throughout the month. Especially when I went indie. I'd wait a year before I saw a check. It was the same when I went Indie. I didn't like being indie. Some writers prefer it, but I don't.

When I began writing my dream was to get a big-name publisher. That didn't happen. Then, learning I needed an agent, I tried getting me one of those. It's a crap shoot, folks. I've known writers--excellent writers--who had landed an agent and still didn't get a publisher. I just don't want to do that any more. Whenever I got a rejection it hit below the belt. I can't do that any more. And now I don't have to.

Well, anyway, in my case, Creativia has been working out for me. It's not dramatic, but slowly I've seen results. I've seen where my books have been advertised in certain places when on sale. I think by next year there will be good stuff happening. Right now my books are getting established, and out to actual readers. I don't do much promotions. I simply don't have time to, and haven't found that any amount of "promoting" on facebook or anywhere has netted me/my books any sales.

Oh, and here is Ascensions book page at their site. If you feel the need you can poke around there and explore who they are, all the authors, and there's a contact page, if you're so inclined.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Series: Caprice on sale this week

Caprice, by Lorelei Bell
on sale this week through July 23rd
Creating a world in which my characters can live in (and sometimes die), is something I so enjoy. I've posted before about the series, why I enjoy them--reading and writing them.

The trick of writing one, and having people come back for the next book, is to leave a few unanswered questions. I've had some readers (who have posted a review--not naming names), complain that there were many unanswered questions. Well, duh! If I don't leave you at a cliffhanger why would you want to return to read the next one?
Of course, the converse of this is other readers have bugged me asking "When's the next book coming out?"--I love that!

Take Caprice, for instance, the fourth book in the Sabrina Strong series. A lot happens in this book.
The vampire Bjorn Tremayne has lost his reign and become a rogue, which doesn't sit well with him. But he's about to do something that will change all this; Dark World has set a bounty on Sabrina's head because she wouldn't mate with him, and he has come up with a way to trick her into bed with him. He needs to get her away from the only vampire who protects her - Vasyl. 

Sabrina's agenda was to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving with her family, and no vampires, Nephilim, werewolves or demons to interrupt it. Unfortunately, a demon in the guise of her Grandmother Rose has decided to attack her at this family gathering. After Bill Gannon, her neighbor and a Nephilim, saves her, Sabrina is whisked off by Bjorn Tremayne and his accomplice. 

Tremayne convinces Sabrina she isn't safe and manages to talk her into running. Meanwhile, Vasyl has fought off Tremayne's minions, but has lost Sabrina and must hide from the sun. He has to chase Sabrina across the Midwest, knowing that Tremayne's ultimate goal is to mate with her—before he, himself, has had a chance to consummate his marriage to Sabrina. 

In order to complete his duty of finding the sibyl, Bill Gannon must chase after Sabrina too, and find a way to talk her into having his children in order to save the whole Nephilim race. While all of these men are vying for Sabrina's attentions, something called an Undead who feeds on souls, seeks Sabrina—the last sibyl—for his own diabolical needs. And he is very determined to find her.

At the end [spoiler alert!!] Tremayne has been poisoned by the silver of Sabrina's dagger. Is he going to live? Meanwhile, Bill, descendant of Nephilim has died in a cave in, and Sabrina has agreed to donate her eggs in order to keep his race from dying out. Bill was charged to somehow have Sabrina bring forth a baby through him. But instead she agrees to give a donation of her eggs as his last, dying request. So, the question at the end of this one is how will this one simple thing she does affect her down the road. What will happen when Vasyl, her vampire husband learns what she's done? Vasyl was hunted down by Nephilim while alive as a priest over 1,000 years ago. He became a vampire in order to out-live and out run them. We'll just say Vasyl has no warm, fuzzy feelings for any Nephilim. He would rather see them all die.

So, I've left some rather sticky situations hanging: Will Tremayne die? Will Sabrina and Bill's child be born? And what of Ilona and Nicolas' plans to take over ruling all of the North American Vampire Association?

Not to worry. There is going to be a fifth book out soon. Still tweaking it as we speak. I'm slated to have 8 titles out eventually with my current publisher. The next four books are written, and I only need to edit the next three, and do rewrites on number 8. My plan is to put one out a year.

If you're new to the Sabrina Strong series, I direct you to the beginning with the first book. Ascension

After the death of her father, Sabrina Strong is hired to solve the murder of Letitia, Bjorn Tremayne's life-time mate. She is quickly immersed in romantic trysts and danger. Megalomaniac vampires are planning to take over and rule the the North American Vampire Association for their own greedy desires. 

Sabrina is not thrilled about the aspect of working for vampires in Chicago, but she needs the money, and wants to find the gorgeous and mysterious vampire who has been turning up in her dreams. Is he the one who bit her when she was ten - marked her for his own - and turned her mother so long ago? 

A unique and mesmerizing mystery blending intricately detailed fantasy and romance, twists and turns of mystery in a contemporary setting, and new insights on a vampire's life including love, passion, heartache, hope, devastation, lust and longing. 

“A truly extraordinary vampire tale . . . something to sink your teeth into . . .”~Reader Views

Caprice is on sale for $0.99 until 7-23-15.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lady, you've got a poltergeist in your kitchen...

Sometimes Zofia, who is a sorceress, has to let an Ugwump--that's a human in her language--into her house to fix something. Now you know that anything might happen, since the humans on Earth simply don't believe in sorceresses, or in many other supernatural beings.

In this case, when Zofia has allowed someone to fix her cupboatds, there's definitely trouble bound to strike since her invisible servant, Biddle, is about to intervene because he feels she is in danger.

This excerpt is an example of the crazy, quirky situations that fill the work,  Spell of the Black Unicorn.

The doorbell rang, interrupting her thoughts and Biddle howled like a banshee.
Zofia rushed through the dining room drying her hands on a towel.
Opening the door, she found herself staring up at a giant. Close-set, steel-blue eyes gaped back down at her from a face as round as a balloon. The closely-cropped hair on his head resembled a five o’clock shadow. In contrast, a meticulously trimmed black beard, allowed to grow just under the chin, framed the roundness of that plump face. Not only did he tower over Zofia, but he took up a good deal of the doorway. The sight of him sent shivers through Zofia. He resembled Blood’s giant—from what she could remember. The same one who had tramped into her parent's home and ripped the place apart looking for her when she was ten. She knew he wasn't, but all the same, it took her a few seconds to get hold of herself.
Then the most extraordinary thing happened. He smiled. Those arctic eyes became suddenly warm; his face nearly cherubic. His smile had turned harsh features into something less scary. When he spoke, his voice tumbled from him with great control, as though with the understanding full volume might reverberate in such a way that its sheer power could make the rafters of the house tremble.
Hi. I’m Newell Vosserman. You called the other day?”
Having lost her voice momentarily, Zofia squeaked, “Yes.”
I came out here yesterday, but the elderly lady said you were under the weather. Figured, I had time today, and so came out.” Forearms the size of full-grown swamp lizards grew out of the rolled up sleeves of his work shirt. The material stretched and strained somewhat at the shoulders and chest.
Yes—um—I was, but I’m much better now, thanks.” She spoke quickly and stepped aside. “You may as well have a look at it, since you’re here.”
The huge man lumbered in. He owed his bulk not entirely to a generous amount of body fat. In contrast, his pants were loose-fitting, a generous amount of material was needed to cover that part of his anatomy, as well.
Nice place you got, Mrs. Grandier,” he said as he side-stepped the dining room furniture with some effort, very much aware of his size. Taking Newell in visually, Zofia now understood how he, even as a boy, might have been able to choke another boy to death.
Thanks,” she said, leading him through.
I can see this house is one of the older ones,” he said, looking around. His massive hand clutched the timber of the hall entryway.
Upon entering the kitchen, they were greeted by explosive hisses. Zofia turned toward the source of sibilation and found Perth and Argyll arching their backs, spitting and growling. Their ears flat against their heads; fur standing straight out on their backs and tails.
Enemy! Run!” Argyll cried.
Change us to humans and we’ll cut him up!” Perth said with gusto.
You’ve got cats,” Newell said. “Cats don’t like me much,” he added, halting half way through the room eyeing the two hissing felines. “I think it must be a karma thing. Like maybe I was a dog in another life, or something.”
Perplexed by Perth and Argyll’s sudden dislike for the huge man, Zofia frowned. “I’m sorry. They sometimes act this way with strangers. Especially men.” She leveled a scathing look at the two.
Suddenly Argyll clawed at Newell’s legs when he came within reach. Newell jerked back, startled by this aggressive display.
Zofia snapped up the broom and jabbed at them. “Argyll! Perth! GO!”
Angry hisses, both felines scrambled away. Newell jumped back. A shower of dried leaves rained down over his head and shoulders from above. He looked up at the herbs hung to dry along the rafters from square nails, then at the mess he’d made.
Gee, I’m sorry, Mrs. Grandier. I didn’t see... I didn’t mean to—”
No, that’s all right,” Zofia said, and stepped around him like he was a large appliance and found him holding the twiggy remains of dried oregano in his huge hands. Cupping her own hands, she relieved him of the crumbling herbs and disposed of it all in the waste basket nearby.
Gee.” He sniffed at his hands. “I smell like a pizza.” He chuckled lightly. Then looking beyond Zofia, he said, “Is that what needs fixing?”
She turned to see him looking at the gaping hole in her cupboards. “Yeah.”
He shambled forward. Bits of dried oregano snowed from his head and shoulders as he bent down. She could only think of the mess she’d have to sweep up once he was done, or Biddle would have a hissy-fit.
Newell bent over, exposing a portion of his fleshy backside to her. Mortified, Zofia turned; her exit almost as swift as her cats. But movement in her periphery stopped her. Two drawers slid open, and then closed as if of their own accord. Cupboard doors, top and bottom, swung open one after another.
Zofia sprang into action and sprinted across the room, closing doors and shoving drawers shut. Although she did all this soundlessly, the slamming of the last door was her undoing.
While still on his knees, Newell straightened and gaped at her.
Zofia twirled to face his startled gaze with one of her own. Quickly, she pasted a smile on her face, fearing the poor man might have seen the phenomenon. But his expression didn’t indicate this. Believing the crises had passed, and Biddle's exhibition was over and would not be repeated for the stranger’s sake, she relaxed.
But, before she could relax fully, another drawer, the one closest to Newell, slid open a few inches. They both watched transfixed as it slid open molasses-slow, then stopped half way. Without warning, it slammed shut, jarring the cutlery inside with such violence Zofia’s mind quickly conjured a picture of her silverware drawer now in a tangle of knives, forks and spoons.
Suddenly, two cupboards nearby swung open and slammed shut several times, followed by Biddle’s detached and very deranged-sounding laugh, (the very one he’d used last Halloween to scare the heebie-jeebies out of a few teenagers who’d come to the house sans costume and argued that Zofia owed them candy).
Zofia realized she was holding her breath, offering Newell a nervous smile. Her whole face felt hot as a cauldron over a fire.
Wow, Mrs. Grandier. Looks like you got more problems than a broken cupboard,” he said, sounding too calm.
Yeah, I guess so,” she said, and heard herself chuckle sharply.
Yep. Looks to me like you’ve got a ghost.”
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that’s exactly how your cupboards got broken.”
She managed to turn her open-mouthed look of surprise into an open-mouthed smile. “You hit the nail on the head, Newell,” she said, well aware that her lips were quivering. She couldn’t believe she was having this conversation with an Ugwump.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet you got yourself a poltergeist. Them’s the worst kind of ghost there is,” he went on somewhat like an auto mechanic might after looking under the hood of her car. He turned back to his measuring and examination of the cupboards. When he went down on all fours, he exposed a little too much information to her, once again. All the same, his nonchalance over the fact he knew she had a ghost in the house made her a little wary. Most Ugwumps didn’t believe in ghosts, even when they said they did. They came up with plausible explanations for the weird, unexplained happenings at a moment’s notice. Or, they became unnerved by it. This kinetic astral activity should have scared the pants the rest of the way off Newell.
Newell produced a large yellow measuring tape from somewhere and began earnestly measuring the cupboard cavity as though nothing was amiss.
Yep,” he said. “I been around ghosts before. Lots of times.” He turned to gaze back at Zofia over his shoulder, giving her an overly calm and confident smile. Turning he added, “My dad’s a ghost, you know.”
Really?” she said, trying hard to carry on this conversation without glancing at his gluteus cleavage above the waist band of his pants.
He killed himself, y’know? You don’t go to heaven when you take your own life, y’know?”
While Newell began to fill in the gory details of how his father had killed himself with a .22, and how the secretary had found him, Zofia watched a chair skidding noisily across the wood floor. This bit of shenanigans was followed quickly by Biddle’s high-pitched giggle. The chair levitated off the floor at eye-level, then arrowed straight for Newell’s large, round head. With a strangled gasp of fear, Zofia lunged and caught the chair before Biddle could slam it over the poor, unsuspecting Ugwump’s head.
Newell looked up to see Zofia holding the chair in mid-air. His look of confused surprise went through an amazing metamorphoses as two large kitchen knives whizzed dangerously close to Newell’s face, and stuck into the wooden cupboards, twanging, mere inches from his ears. His eyes bugged out, sliding left and right to take in the handles of the knives next to his face. If he’d have moved just a hair, the blades might have sliced one, or both ears, clean off.
BIDDLE!” Zofia cried, shocked.
Newell’s face had gone paper-white as he drew himself up off the floor. His measuring tape snapped back. He grabbed up his tool box, the tools jangling with his motions, and backed away. The look on his face was one which she had expected at the onset of Biddle’s weird antics.
Get out while you can!” Biddle’s detached and ghostly voice said.
I’m going! I’m going! Sorry, Mrs. Grandier—” Newell moved faster than she thought capable, and chugged out the back door.
As soon as the screen door slammed behind him, Zofia withered into the chair she’d kept from crashing into Newell’s head. She didn’t even remember putting it down.
Biddle!” she said. “What’s the meaning of your outburst?”
Blood was near,” Biddle said in a calm, unstrained voice. “I felt his presence.”
Blood?” she repeated and stared at the back door. “Not Newell?”
Displaced air near the refrigerator twanged and the dressing mirror appeared, making Zofia twirl around to face it. Aazel stared out at her from the mirror.
Aazel, did you detect Blood nearby too?” she asked.
I did, Mistress Zofia,” Aazel responded.
Zofia?” Dorian called to her. “I heard voices. Is everything alright?”

Friday, July 10, 2015

Purging the Unwanted Thoughts-The Meditative Process

This view is from the observation deck in Afton Forest Preserve, where we live, and Dennis works.

I suppose I need to back up and tell you, a number of job openings came when a couple of people left (retired) the DeKalb County Forest Preserve. There was one full time position that was open, which my husband applied for. It had certain education requirements which he did not have. Long story short, he didn't get the position--we just had news yesterday of the decision. He's handling it in his own way. Has said all along that he wouldn't become angry--just disappointed--and that it only meant there's still something "out there meant for me".

I took it harder than he did. Maybe. I'm sure he struggles with it, today. We're both dealing with the disappointment today in our own ways. It was a good paying job with benefits, but also there was a lot involved in the job. Things that someone with injuries, like Dennis has, probably wouldn't be up to. Thus, in a way, it was a blessing he didn't get it. But it would be nice if they'd just give him full time and better pay. But, whatever.

Maybe some of you know I've been working out with yoga. Maybe "working-out" is a wrong term. This is something you learn gradually when your body isn't very limber. Only this morning I was able to do "the stork"--that's simply standing on one foot, lift the other, bend the knee, and lifting your arms straight up over your head, spine straight, and hold--I did this for the first time without falling this morning. Go ahead and try that, I'll wait...

How did that work out for you? Not good, I'll bet. I could only do this on my left leg. I'm still having trouble standing on the right foot with left leg bent, and balancing. Not easy. For some reason, you are better at balancing on one foot than the other. My husband told me that, and I found it true enough.

Anyway, I'm trying to adopt a new way of thinking. Trying to Know Oneself through Yoga. It involves breath control "pranayama" and build up pranic energy to stir the subconscious in order to attain a higher level of thinking. I'll never attain real meditation--which is best left for serious yogis--but today I did find peace of mind, after letting this whole episode stir me up emotionally. I knew I had to get out to the park, find a spot and just sit and let the peacefulness imbue me with serenity.

It happened. For the first time in many years, it happened!

I found a quiet spot in the park. My husband and his devoted worker/partner were out weed-eating, so no mowers were going. I walked down to the bridge, and looked down into the Little Rock Creek, able to look down to the bottom--this water is clear--and watched the barn swallows and other birds either resting or flying around. Two barn swallows were perched nearby over the water and seemingly my presence hadn't bothered them. They stayed where they were nearly the entire time I was there.

There is a bench near the creek, and I sat down, removed my shoes and tried to get into a lotus--that's going to take some time for me. I haven't been able to cross my legs comfortably like that in a decade. Anyway, I sat with my knees bent, and my arms around them looking at the creek, watching and listening to birds, quieting my inner self. My soul. I worked on the breathing technique, but not too diligently. My goal was to simply be.

I sat there for a long time. Maybe 10 min. I don't know as I didn't have a watch on me. The point of my outing today wasn't to so much as to get in a walk, but to find a peaceful place to "meditate" for a while on things. And by that I don't mean "think". I mean the lack of thought. That's truly what meditation is. You'll find it difficult to do that, to still all the endless rumbling thoughts. But I've always been able to find peaceful settings the best place for me to strive for non-thought. Just observe nature.

It happened as I sat there on the bench, not thinking. I listened to birdsong, looked out at distant things, and close by at insects. I tried to act as though I were just an object, like a rock, or one of the flowers sitting there. Not even the mosquitoes molested me and not one pesky deer fly had found me. My feathered friends, the peewee and swallows were doing a bang up job eating said bugs. Only a couple of sweat bees found my fingers, and they are harmless, and with a twitch of a finger, they left me alone.

After a while, I continued up the path to the observation deck to check on the progress of the opening of the flowers here on the hill. I found that the flowers were opening nicely, finally. All the flowers are late because of constant rain/clouds, and cool temps.

It wasn't until after my outing that I realized I had always wanted to find just such a place, all my life and I have it right Here! Where no one comes along, I'm alone with nature. Only sounds are the birds, the distant rumblings of a semi, or a Harley are merely the world going by about a mile or so away. This was my own private little harmony.

This is what yoga does for you. It helps you understand yourself and the world around you. You learn, eventually to free yourself from the tyranny of the mind and senses, and also from adverse circumstances. It takes time, but I've always had this inside me. Have always striven for an inner peace since I was a teenager.

I now find that I have allowed things like this--all the disappointments in my life--to eventually seep into my subconscious and make me sad or angry. It's hard to stop doing something that you've done for so long. I'm still working at it. But now that I've recognized it, I'm working to eradicate it, like a weed in my garden. I want to be like the sun, shining and all that goes on around me--the planets that circle me--don't interfere with my day-to-day thoughts, or my emotional well being. I'm striving to let the world do its thing, wait for inspiration, and if good things are yet in the wings, they will come. At least that's my hope.

I will still have to work at my current job, but Dennis refuses to go back to Huskie, he simply can't handle it any more. Not that I can, and that was the plan that I'd eventually be able to quit if he got that job. See what I mean? It's all connected. But like all things, as harsh as a winter is, the blooms do come in the summer, no matter what.

It's quite possible something else is out there. Something that is somewhere we'd rather be. Like out west.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth, America!

I don't know. Maybe it's my age, or whatever. We stay at home these days on the fourth. I've seen fireworks plenty. In fact if I really want to see some from a distance, I can watch them out the window--if I wish to stay up past my bedtime. Yeah. Early riser here. We'll see if I can stay awake.

And here we are in the middle of an amber alert about these A-holes who want to do us in-I'm not going to name them. Be like saying the name Voldermort, so we'll just say You-Know-Who. Yeah. Okay. You do your cowardly thing and blow up some people while you blow up with them. Cowards!

"A man who takes pleasure in another's pain is no man."-Quai Chand Caine from Kung Fu

This is AMERICA, dudes (and dudetts), you don't know, or understand what we did to win our freedom. Take a history lesson. We won't give it up easily.

Anyway, that's me spouting off. Go Us. And whoever else is with us in this hemisphere.
And speaking of that amber alert... earlier today, while on the job, I saw this dude up on a roof at a shopping area, with his cell phone and wearing a striped shirt and backpack, looking around. No. He wasn't a worker. I called my supervisor and told him to alert the authorities. I don't know what happened. Don't want to know, really. I only wanted to do my civic duty and continue on my route, dealing with traffic in a 12.5 ton bus on a busy 4-lane with everyone on the road, or customers who need me to stop to let them on or off.

Meanwhile, like I said we are staying home, out here next to the Afton Forest Preserve. I'll make my fried chicken and famous potato salad for my husband who came 2 days away from being a 4th of July baby. I don't mind the work, really. I'll make this meal gladly. Today we found out a cousin of my husband's died suddenly of stage-4 cancer. He went to the doctor complaining of "not feeling right" and the doctors found he had cancer, sent him home to die (only a few days later), with meds. He was only 61. His wife, oddly enough, died of cancer a few years prior. My husband did a little history and told me a lot of the people on that side died of cancer.

Well, not to leave you, my dear, gentle readers into a funk on this holiday season, but the point is, do ENJOY LIFE WHILE YOU CAN!!! That is my message. Screw what's going on around you. Do the thing you've wanted to do NOWWWWW! Be happy with life. Always do kind deeds, think kind thoughts and get along. Yes. Even on the road!!

Blessings my friends.

Chickens lay eggs, and so do Turtles

For those of you who don't know my husband is park ranger and one of his main jobs is mowing. He has a large deck (72") Toro Zero T...